This was an exciting event for me for many reasons. One I live about 25 minutes from the lake and have fished it my whole life. Two our twins were due about a week after this event so things are getting crazy. Three Abbie’s birthday was the Sunday after the tournament was over. Four we had Cliff Crochet and Keith Poche staying at our house. So I had a lot going on during this time! Douglas is a great lake, the BEST in East Tennessee for sure. It has a lot of fish and some real big ones. The local tournaments this spring had been taking 20-28 pounds to win. I was pumped about getting to fish at this level at home.
Practice: Since Memorial Day was on Monday I decided not to go out. I figured that the boat traffic would be too much of a hindrance to worry about. Tuesday morning Jennie woke up with labor pains! We went to the hospital and they were able to get her contractions stopped, again, this had happened the week before as well. So I got on the water about 9. It was not a very good day for me. I caught a few fish but didn’t fish some areas intentionally. Wednesday I looked and fished a little harder, especially early. I was able to get some bites to give myself some confidence in where I wanted to start. I found a few places that had a lot fish on them.
Day 1: My first stop of the day was on a point that saddled up to a hump. Within 10 minutes I had my first fish in the boat. This was a good one, about 4 pounds; the next cast was a 3 pounder. I caught one more here that was a small keeper. I left here and went to another point close by. Shortly after stopping I caught one about 3 pounds. All of the fish up to this point had come on a 5” swimbait with a 1 ounce head. I missed a few more here then moved on. My next stop was inside of Flat creek. This point produced a couple of fish; one was about 3 pounds on a jigging spoon. On the way out of Flat creek I checked one more point and it was a good stop. I had worked my way around the outside of the point and made a long cast. My swimbait didn’t sink as far as it seemed it should. When I picked up there was a fish on it. It was a big one! After a tough fight, I landed my largest fish of the day, a 5-7. This all happened by 9:30! This was the end of my day though. I fished a lot of other areas but never got it going. I ended the day with 16-13 and was in 6th place.
Day 2: I started in the same spot as the day before but the bite was a little slower. I caught a 3 pound fish on the jigging spoon fairly early. I switched to a smaller swimbait and hooked a real nice fish. This wound up being a nice smallmouth, but not big enough! It was 19 ½” long, but smallmouth must be 20” to be a keeper. This is a ridiculous size limit but that story is for another day. I moved to the second stop as the day before. On my first cast I caught a 4 pounder on the swimbait. I missed a few more bites and the fish left. My next stop, in Flat creek, produced a small keeper on a Carolina rig. These three fish were all I caught until about noon. I decided to go shallow to finish my limit. I caught a couple of small keepers flipping a Berkley Havoc Pit Boss. I thought of another spot that might produce a better fish shallow. This spot gave up a 2 ¼ and a 2 3/4. This was a great upgrade at the time. I went back to my 2nd stop at the end of the day to give it another try. I caught 2 fish that were nearly 3 pounds right before I had to go in. This helped my catch up to just over 15 pounds and move up to 4th.
Day 3: I decided to move around a little more in the morning. The first 4 stops produced a keeper each but they were all small. Then my wife called! She would not call during a tournament unless it was an emergency. She told me she was at the hospital and we would have our twins that night, around 10p.m. according to the doctors. She also told me to finish my tournament; what an amazing woman I have! So I had no other choice but to stay and fish right? I ran up the lake and caught some fish on deep crankbaits but nothing big. It was tough to stay focused but I ended with a little less than 10 pounds and finished the event in 7th.
Added edge: Something that I had recently started doing was using Spiderwire braid with a Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon leader. This allows for more solid hook sets and increased sensitivity. I feel like this helped me land more of my bites especially when fishing real deep. Most of my fish came over 25’ deep in this tournament. Also my Koolwell system in my boat helped keep all of my fish alive throughout this tournament.